What's your favourite mobile arcade racer? Need for Speed: Most Wanted? Asphalt 8? Horizon Chase?
All good answers, but none would be my pick. That honour would have to go to 2013's Ridge Racer Slipstream, a truly excellent mobile re-engineering of the famous Namco Bandai console franchise.
So it's with great interest - and no small amount of trepidation - that I approach Ridge Racer Draw and Drift, which has been in soft launch on the Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Philippines App Stores since October.
Here are a few impressions based on my time with the latest pre-launch version.
Call it a draw
Sadly, this isn't the Ridge Racer Slipstream sequel I was hoping for. It's something else entirely, to the point where I could imagine (perhaps foolishly) a true sequel co-existing with this effort.
So what is Ridge Racer Draw and Drift if it's not a true Ridge Racer game? It's all spelled out in the second half of that name.
Rather than steering your car around the track directly, you must draw a path for it to follow prior to each race. Then in the race proper, you tap the screen as your car approaches corners to initiate a drift (risking a late tap for a 'perfect' slide), and hit the nitro button when it becomes available to you.
If you're hoping that this is some kind of return to the brilliantly novel - and sadly missed - line-drawing racing system of DrawRace and its sequel, it's not. Your car seems to follow a smoothed-out approximation of your route (I tested this with some deliberately squiggly efforts).
Meanwhile the speed at which you draw simply determines how small those powerslide points will be, with tighter windows yielding superior nitro rewards. Right now, the whole drawing section feels a little superfluous.
Max Verstappen or Lance Stroll?
There is something gratifying to the rhythmic drift-tapping section, though. It's closer to the timing-based approach of something like CSR Racing than any Ridge Racer you might have played, and that's not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Nailing successive 'Perfect' corners is immensely satisfying.
We'll have to spend more time with the game to see how this skill-based system plays against the usual freemium grind of unlocking upgrades and saving up for random car drops.
What I can say at this early point is that Ridge Racer Draw and Drift looks very pretty indeed, with smooth 3D races that move along at a fair old lick.
When a game invokes memories of not one but two of the finest racing experiences on mobile (Ridge Racer Slipstream and DrawRace 2) though, it's natural to expect great things of it. It's still early days, but I have my doubts that Ridge Racer Draw and Drift will be able to keep up with such racing pedigree.